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For Immediate Release

Contact

Dean Pearce, dean.pearce@berlinrosen.com, 630-723-7490

Press Release

Christmas Eve: CWA Members To Sound Alarm of Sexual Assault, Toxic Workplace at AT&T Vallejo Store

Employees have faced push back from management for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the store manager has ignored COVID guidelines, putting workers’ health at risk. 
WASHINGTON -

This Christmas Eve, AT&T workers, Communications Workers of America (CWA) members and community allies will rally together at a socially distant demonstration to demand change at AT&T’s Vallejo store after an assistant manager sexually assaulted a worker in October. The demonstrators are calling for justice for the victim, Yesenia Ortiz and accountability for Juan Moreno, the assistant manager, and Wahab Falak, the store manager, who were involved in egregious behavior; and an end to the retaliatory and toxic workplace created by management.           

In October, Mr. Moreno called Ms. Ortiz across the sales floor and said, “I have a present for you,” and proceeded to pull open her sweatshirt and shove a box of pens into her jacket. He then followed her aggressively as she walked away, breaking COVID-19 guidelines of standing six feet apart. This was an assault on Ms. Ortiz in a sexually inappropriate manner. Video footage of the incident is available upon request.

***CWA Members, AT&T Workers and community allies will be demonstrating on Christmas Eve outside the AT&T Vallejo store, 976 Admiral Callaghan Lane, Suite D, Vallejo, CA 94591***

“The Vallejo AT&T store is the most toxic place I’ve ever worked,” said Yesenia Ortiz, an employee at the AT&T Vallejo store and a victim of sexual assault by the store’s assistant manager. “It’s unbelievable that AT&T is aware that I was a victim of sexual assault committed by my co-worker, and yet he’s been able to keep his job. AT&T needs to terminate Wahab and Juan immediately, and step in and take action to make sure that the laundry list of issues at our store is no longer tolerated.” 

After the initial shock of the incident, Ms. Ortiz contacted AT&T’s EEO hotline to report the assault and was told an investigation would take place. The investigation led to the store’s manager, Wahab Falak, administering a single “coaching session” with Mr. Moreno. Mr. Falak later said in an email to Ms. Ortiz that the incident was not as “extreme” as she made it sound, and Mr. Moreno was allowed to keep his job. Please look at the video from a store camera yourself.

Mr. Falak also twice refused to allow Ms. Ortiz to take a call from the AT&T EEO investigator. When Ms. Ortiz called the investigator on her own time, she was told that she must call during working hours, and she was subsequently allowed to speak with the investigator while on the clock. Before the case was closed by AT&T in December, Mr. Falak also called Ms. Ortiz into her office and asked that she drop the EEO complaint.

Before the sexual assault, Mr. Moreno tore down Ms. Ortiz’s Black Lives Matter sticker on her work locker at Mr. Falak's direction. The sticker was in the store’s locker room where colleagues have personal stickers expressing a range of interests on their lockers. This happened despite the company’s stance in support of Black lives and a commitment from AT&T’s CEO John Stankey to dedicate company resources to support equality. Shortly after her sticker was scraped off her locker, Ms. Ortiz broke down on the sales floor crying because, as the mother of Black children, she was devastated to think that the company did not respect her children’s lives. 

After the union filed a grievance on behalf of workers about the removal of Ms. Ortiz’s Black Lives Matter sticker, workers demanded that the company allow a one-hour uninterrupted meeting for members to address concerns and receive diversity and discrimination training from an outside vendor. Mr. Falak decided that five-minute individual meetings alone in his office would be sufficient.

Workers have also raised concerns with Mr. Falak’s handling of COVID-19 guidelines.

When a store employee expressed concerns that the store was over its capacity per California state regulations, one employee began videotaping with his personal device to document its overcrowding. That’s when Mr. Falak yelled at the employee, William Rivera, in front of customers, sent him to the backroom for two hours, and then called the police to remove him for trespassing.

Since November 27th, Mr. Rivera has been suspended without pay pending an ongoing investigation. Yet, the punishment for Mr. Moreno committing sexual assault was a single “coaching session.”

WHO: AT&T Workers, CWA Members and Community Allies

WHAT: Demonstration outside the Vallejo AT&T store to get justice for Yesenia Ortiz and put an end to the toxic workplace

WHEN: Thursday, December 24, 10 A.M. PT to 12 P.M. PT

WHERE: AT&T Vallejo Store, 976 Admiral Callaghan Lane, Suite D, Vallejo, CA 94591

###

Communication Workers of America (CWA) is America's largest communications & media union. CWA members work in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, news media, broadcast and cable television, education, health care, public service and education, law enforcement, manufacturing and other fields.

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